- EU leaders claim deal in principle at migration summit
- Turkish PM offers to take back migrants for more aid
- Details of deal still to be agreed
European Union leaders and Turkey have agreed in principle a plan to confront the current migration crisis but they need more time to work out the details.
The proposed agreement would be for the EU to return migrants who do not qualify for refugee status to Turkey, in return for resettling within Europe an equal number of refugees.
A last minute call by Ankara for more money and visa-free travel to Europe in return for its help came too late for a full assesment
Euronews reporter Gulsum Alan who has been attending the summit in Brussels said: “The negotiations were difficult. The next step… another two day European meeting starting March 17 which will again include Turkey.”
In the meantime EU Council President Donald Tusk portrayed this summit as something of a breakthrough:
“Prime Minister (Ahmet Davutoglu) confirmed Turkey’s commitment to accept the rapid return of all migrants coming from Turkey to Greece that are not in need of international protection. The EU will support Greece in ensuring comprehensive large scale and fast track returns to Turkey. All the above mentioned decision send a very clear message that the days of irregular migration to Europe are over.”
While agreeing to take back migrants who don’t qualify for asylum to alleviate the situation in Greece, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is asking for a doubling of EU aid 6bn euros. He is also wanting faster EU membership talks and quicker visa-free travel.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among EU leaders hailing the Turkish proposals as a potential breakthrough in Europe’s politically toxic migration crisis.
More than a million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond have flooded into the EU since early 2015, most making the perilous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece, then heading north through the Balkans to Germany.
“Our objective is to discourage illegal migration, to prevent human smugglers, to help people who want to come to Europe through encouraging legal migration in a disciplined and a regular manner, said Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu.
But Greece wants more action ….. Athens also wants the bloc to speed up the process of relocating asylum seekers from them to other EU countries. It was a promise made last September but so far only a few hundred of the 160,000 people have been taken. Will the promises made this time be kept.